Humiliated by Parliament, Boris Johnson did eventually send the letter seeking an extension to the Article 50 process as demanded by the Benn Act. By doing so, has Boris Johnson not signed his own act of surrender?

First published in October 2019.

What was supposed to be a day of glory for Boris Johnson after his succesful negotiation with the European Union, the famous make-or-break Saturday (the first Saturday sitting of Parliament in 37 years) or, as some coined it Super Saturdayended up first as a retreat, when he couldn’t bring his deal to a vote after an amendment tabled by former Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin to withhold approval of the PM’s deal until all necessary legislation is in place was voted by MPs, 322 votes to 306.

Then, it turned into an absolute surrender when, following yet another defeat in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson was forced on Saturday night to send that letter to the EU Council seeking an extension of the Article 50 process, despite his plan to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October, “do or die”.

Leave aside the childish nonsense about him not signing the letter – which Number 10 and the PM’s supporters will not doubt insist on as the sign of what a great hero he is, he who against all odds is defying the Remainers, the MPs and the Judges against what only he and the Brexiters know to be the will of the peoplehe did comply with the Benn Act before the 11pm deadline despite having repeatedly claimed he never would. Remember his “I’d rather die in a ditch”?

Will Boris Johnson’s supporters finally wake up from their dream and smell the coffee? Their hero has fallen off his old black stallion, a horse he called Big Lies years ago that may look pretty at first sight but has become an annoyance with time, harder to handle and more dangerous recently. A knee on the ground, their hero is wounded with self-inflicted deception, inventions and dishonesty out for the entire world to see in the open. Humiliated by Parliament, Boris Johnson did eventually send the letter seeking an extension to the Article 50 process as demanded by the Benn Act. By doing so, has Boris Johnson not signed his own act of surrender?

It is a strange coincidence to think that on the same day, 238 years ago, another surrender took place.

On 19 October 1781, the British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, in the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in North America. General Charles O’Hara surrendered to both George Washington and the French Army of Napoleon Bonaparte. It resulted in the capture of 8,000 British soldiers and the start of negotiations between the United States and Great Britain that gave effect to the Treaty of Paris of 1783 which ended the war.

"Surrender of Lord Cornwallis" by John Trumbull. The surrender of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, which ended the last major campaign of the Revolutionary War. / Architect of the Capitol 

In an article he wrote in the New York Times, “How a Revolution Saved an Empire”, back in 2007, Sir Michael Rose, a retired British Army general who commanded the United Nations forces in the former Yugoslavia from 1994 to 1995, explained:

“If the Whig opposition, led by Lord Rockingham, had not had the moral courage and vision to accept defeat by the American colonists, and had not been able to persuade the king and his ministers to do likewise, Britain would likely have lost its position in the world ... By ending the unnecessary war in North America, Britain was able rapidly to rebuild its army and navy, eventually take on and defeat Napoleon, and become the unquestioned pre-eminent global power. Few saw this in 1781. During the cruel years of the war, George III had followed a hopelessly flawed strategy and had failed to commit adequate resources to the mission.”

Today, in peace time, Britain finds itself in a similar position as in 1781, where distracted by a costly, highly damaging, complex and lobby-driven Brexit its government is ready to risk to hurt the UK economy and the people of Britain, because of some narrow minded politicians and leaders who, alike George III, have followed a hopelessly flawed strategy since the start and have failed to get people from both sides of the argument together to make this work somehow.

At a time where Russia, China and the United States are all challenging the world’s trade, economy and stability, Britain leaving the European Union is not a sign of a confident dove freeing itself from the lions’ den to reclaim its position as a global superpower again, but a timid and weak-kneed cat leaving the house for the first time in forty years that will be forced to relinquish its influence in Europe – never mind the world.

How about that ditch, then? What Britain doesn’t need right now is a populist prime minister with larger than life plots and flimsy excuses, who simply parrots whatever his unelected, self-appointed and self-styled genius special advisor who runs Number 10 screams at him between four walls.

What Britain needs right now is a sure-footed, principled leader with the moral courage that Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn both lack. It remains to be seen whether anyone in Parliament actually fits this description.

This is no time for petty divisions of party politics, personal attacks or devious stratagems. Whether the European Union does offer the UK an Article 50 extension or not, the no-deal 31 October deadline is still the law of the land and it is high time for Members of Parliament of all sides to put country before party, and bring about a second referendum.🔷

“When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits — despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”Alexander Hamilton, 18 August 1792.

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[This is an original piece, first published by the author in on 20 October 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor. - State Opening October 2019. | 14 Oct 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)